Ida May Kwesigwa of Mayflower Apartments has passed on aged 71, leaving a multi-billion case with Housing Finance Bank unresolved despite President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s intervention.
Kwesiga was pronounced dead late November 27 night.
“I’m in total shock at the death of my sister, Aunt May Aida Kwesiga, as we all call her. She passed away, just hours ago and I’m still trying to come to terms with this horrific news. She is a woman I highly respected for her humility and generosity,” said her daughter-in-law Sheila Kawamara Mishambi.
“She welcomed me into the Mishambi family with open hands and for the last 26 years she has treated me as her young sister. Calling me at least once a week and supporting me through my darkest days. What a woman she was.”
Kawamara added: “If we just had just a few courageous investors like May Kwesiga in Uganda, we would definitely prosper a trillion times.”
IDA MAY KWESIGA-HOUSING FINANCE BANK CASE
In 2013, Housing Finance Bank extended a $2.7m (about Shs9bn) loan to Kwesiga to help her improve her apartments comprised in Freehold Register Volume (FRV) 212 Folio 22, Plot 35, Nakasero, Kyadondo Road in Kampala.
At the end of 2019, Housing Finance Bank put the loan and its interest over the years at $3m (about Shs11bn).
After failing to pay the money, the bank issued Kwesiga with a notice of default on July 03, 2019; a notice of sale against of the mortgaged property on September 09, 2019, and published an advert for the sale of the mortgaged property on October 15, 2019.
However, days later, Kwesiga ran to the Land Division of the High Court seeking a review of the loan, arguing that it had been extended on unconscionable terms, misrepresentation of facts by members and she was not given an opportunity for representation by an independent financial advisor.
Court would later issue an order against the sale of the property pending the disposal of the case for mortgage review, but Kwesiga said she was shocked to learn that the bank had sold the property to Balaji Group East Africa Limited in total disregard of the court order and directives against land and property transaction during the Covid19 crisis.
“The first defendant [Housing Finance Bank] without re-issuing default notices, re-advertising or re-evaluating to ascertain the current market value, proceeded and sold the suit property to the second defendant [Balaji Group East Africa Limited],” says Kwesiga in her application.
“The plaintiff has just come to learn that the property was sold to Balaji Group East Africa Limited despite having a court order and being aware of the current Covid19 situation that has affected the entire economy.”
Kwesiga would later petition Museveni to intervene in the matter and rein in the bank.
Housing Finance Bank is jointly owned by the Government of Uganda (GoU), National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and National Housing and Construction Company Limited (NHCCL).
In his letter to the financial institution, Museveni ordered a review of loan repayment terms.
Kwesiga is wife to the late Eng Samwiri Mishambi Kwesiga, a man Museveni hails for his role in the National Resistance Army (NRA) liberation struggle.
The president described Eng Kwesiga as “a comrade.”
In a letter dated September 09, Museveni told Housing Finance Bank managing director Michael K Mugabi that Kwesiga sought his intervention in a loan repayment controversy.
Paying tribute to the late Eng Kwesiga for offering support to the NRA liberation struggle, Museveni tells MD Mugabi that he is aware that financial institutions set terms and conditions for their loans, clearly spelling out what should be done in case one defaults.
But he asks the top bank’s boss to give Kwesiga’s widow a chance to sell the property herself and pay them within two months.
The reason Museveni wanted Housing Finance Bank to allow Kwesiga to sell her property and pay the financial institution is because she told the president the bank sold her property at a lower price.
Balaji Group (EA) Ltd had offered Shs8.8bn for yet Kwesiga claimed her property was independentlt valued at $8m (about Shs30bn) on the open market. At worst, she had argued, the property would be sold at $5m (Shs18bn).
Kwesiga also faulted the bank for failure to re-advertise the property again.
“The plaintiff prays for judgment against the defendant for a declaration that the sale of land and properties at Kyadondo Road Nakasero to the second defendant [Balaji Group East Africa Limited] be set aside for being unlawfully and fraudulently done.”
HOUSING FINANCE BANK RESPONSE
Later, the Land Division of the High Court granted Housing Finance Bank’s prayer to refer the matter to the Commercial Division.
Here, the bank denied any wrongdoing, insisting it had been fair to Kwesiga. That it had even asked her to find buyers of her choice.
The financial institution also dismissed claims it had sold off Kwesiga’s whole complex. Housing Finance Bank told court it only auctioned 16 of the 25 apartments, most of them two-bedroom apartments. That Kwesiga had sold most of the expensive three-bedroomed apartments.
On undervaluation claims, the bank argued that an independent valuer, East African Consulting Surveyors Limited, had undertaken the entire process.
By the time of Kwesiga’s death, it was not clear if her matter with the bank had been resolved. Lack of resolution would now push the case to the new administrator who would have to battle it out with the bank.
The administrator and the bank would now have to amicably review terms of repayment or face off in court.
Whoever will take over from Kwesiga will also have to meet her other debt obligations if recent press reports are anything to go by.
Some publications claimed Kwesiga was still servicing a $2.3m (about Shs7bn) in loan and its interest from Khan Hamdan, a money lender. That the figure had risen from $700,000 in 2018 to about Shs7bn in only two years.
The Pearl Times could not independently verify this and other claims that Kwesiga was choking on several debts.
For now, her family feels dishonest hands conspired with the press to frustrate the investor that Kwesiga was, taking her through the worst in her last days on earth.
“It is so sad that with all the love she had and her generous heart, her last days were tormenting. She lived a very private life, but she was dragged into the media for a very brave Investment that was botched by some unscrupulous people,” wrote Kawamara.
“Many people that cannot do even a thousandth of what this gallant sister did have laughed and ridiculed her, but she goes to sleep with a lot of respect from me.”